As we ring in the new year, many of us are ambitious about our goals, with health-related resolutions at the top of the list. However, only 9% of people successfully keep these resolutions throughout the year, and 23% quit within the first week.
Keep reading for easy-to-keep health habits for improving mental and physical health to start AND end your year on the right foot. We suggest choosing a couple to start and adding more as you make each one a habit.
Make Your Bed Every Morning
Are you striving towards staying organized and efficient in 2023? The first habit to implement in your daily routine is making your bed every morning – yes, that means even when you don’t feel like it. Making your bed takes seconds and can help kickstart a productive day by accomplishing your first task right off the bat. Keep reading to learn why making your bed every morning helps set you up for success and encourages a clean environment.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Admiral William H. McRaven said it best himself during his commencement speech at the University of Texas: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Making your bed in the morning may seem like nothing more than a morning chore, but it helps to set yourself up for completing greater accomplishments throughout the rest of the day by checking the first task off your list. Making your bed when you wake up can also improve sleep quality. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 62% of sleepers feel that resting in a tidy, organized bedroom helps them feel more relaxed and sleep better throughout the night. Besides, how great does it feel to come home to a cozy, made bed after a long day?!
Encourage a Tidy Living Space
Have you noticed how a tidy bed can make even the most disorganized room look cleaner? On top of setting yourself up for success, making your bed is a smart goal as it encourages you to keep the rest of your space organized by starting your day with a small act of cleaning. Pro tip: for extra throw pillows, keep a storage basket next to your bed for easy access to quickly grab them when making your bed in the morning.
Make Mindful Eating Choices
Another New Year’s resolution you may want to make is to choose to follow a healthy eating regime that includes nutritious foods and drinks. Not only does eating a healthy diet boost your immunity, but it also may help you live longer, keeps the skin, teeth, and eyes healthy, and lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Below, we have included a few habits you can insert into your daily life to help you make healthful eating decisions.
Don’t skip breakfast!
Are you a part of the 1 in 4 Americans that skip out on eating breakfast daily? Whether you are running late to work, dropping your kids off at school, or have a busy day ahead, there are countless excuses to skip a healthy breakfast. However, eating a nutritious breakfast, especially one that is protein-filled, has a handful of benefits, including curbing cravings later in the day, providing you with energy, and helping you meet your recommended daily nutrient needs. Sticking to a regular eating schedule also helps to prevent overeating, reduce stress, and improve circadian rhythm.
Here are a few eggcellent breakfast choices to try making in the morning:
- Overnight Oats: Oats are a great choice if you are someone who tends to run out of time in the mornings because you can simply grab them out of the fridge on your way out the door! Oats are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that promote good digestion, steady energy, and healthy cholesterol. Try adding chia seeds to your oats for healthy fat and protein.
- Avocado Toast: Looking for a healthy option in the morning that will keep you full for longer? Try this trendy dish topped with 1-2 eggs for added protein and nutrients. Get even more creative with your toast by adding other toppings such as smoked salmon, hemp seeds, sprouts, cucumbers, and more.
- Smoothies: A smoothie is the ultimate option for jam-packing as much nutrition into one drink as possible. Try including superfoods such as blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and turmeric into your smoothies to start your morning off right.
Swap Takeout for Home-Cooked Meals
With today’s speedy food delivery services, it’s no surprise that 60% of U.S. consumers order takeout once a week. While opting for takeout for convenience is necessary at times, there are trade-offs you make when ordering food. Compared to home-cooked meals, restaurant meals tend to have higher amounts of sodium, fat, and calories. By choosing to cook your own food, you have control over all the ingredients that go into your body. Cooking food yourself will also help to save money by dodging delivery fees and restaurant bills.
Making home-cooked meals a habit may seem like a daunting task at first. Try starting small with at least one home-cooked meal a day and add more gradually. If you are lacking on time, try meal prepping your food ahead of time or ordering from healthy meal delivery services such as HelloFresh, Green Chef, or Purple Carrot to keep control over ingredients.
Avoid Drinking Caffeine Late in the Day
Do you find yourself drinking coffee late in the day and unable to fall asleep at night? We’ve all been there! While that morning cup of joe may give you the burst of energy you need to start the day, it is important to steer away from continuing your caffeine consumption later into the day to avoid sabotaging your natural energy levels and sleep cycles. A study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has found that drinking caffeine can disrupt your sleep for up to 6 hours after consuming it.
Drinking coffee in the afternoon not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but it also can lead to waking up more in the middle of the night and may delay your circadian rhythm but about 40 minutes, making it harder to wake up in the morning. If you are finding it hard to wean off your caffeine intake, try swapping your afternoon coffee with a warm decaffeinated tea.
Practice Body Positivity
Is your healthy new year goal to feel confident in your own skin and embrace your body? According to Ashley Elizabeth, resilience mastery coach and motivational speaker, 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal shape. Body positivity can be defined as feeling proud of your body, no matter the shape or size, and is important in helping to better your physical and mental health by boosting self-esteem. Here are a few ways that you can practice loving your body unconditionally.
Practice Positive Affirmations
A great starting point for changing your perception of yourself is to practice positive affirmations. Positive affirmations work by encouraging your brain to take affirmative statements as facts through regular repetition. Using positive affirmations can help clear your head of any negative or self-sabotaging thought processes that may interfere with your success.
To create your list of positive affirmations, start by writing your favorite aspects about yourself and everything your body is capable of. If you need some extra help with this, it’s ok to pull in a trusted loved one to reinforce your beliefs. Use this list to create present and specific affirmations that are realistic to you. Start with 3 to 5 affirmations that you repeat upon waking and going to sleep, repeating each affirmation around 10 times. Make sure to be consistent and patient, and give yourself grace, love, and compassion in the process. It is important to remember, positive affirmations are a starting step towards change, not a tool for instant healing.
Focus on Health, Not Weight
When it comes to measuring overall health, many people turn to the scale and base fitness levels on how high the number reaches. Let’s take a moment to step off the scale and talk about why this habit of consistently weighing yourself may be doing you more harm than good. Solely focusing on losing weight can lead to unhealthy weight-loss mechanisms and unsustainable diets, that certainly won’t last throughout the year. While eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is favorable, if your focus is weight loss rather than health, you may become discouraged sooner and give up altogether.
To practice focusing on health instead of weight, make sure to consider that the number you see on the scale is not an accurate measure of how healthy you are. Instead, try making healthy changes such as listening to your body and eating when hungry, choosing foods that nurture your health, and partaking in physical activity that makes your body feel good. Rather than exercising to lose weight, exercise to build strength, heart health, flexibility, and confidence. Remember, your weight does NOT define your worth.
Surround Yourself with Uplifting People
A very large part of today’s body image standards comes from social media. When scrolling through Instagram, Tik Tok, or Snapchat, we are bombarded with filtered and photoshopped images of celebrities, influencers, and friends. With filters built into social applications to give your face a “perfect” nose, fuller lips, and smoother skin, it is even easier to compare yourself. It is important to remember that what you see online is not always real. Try unfollowing accounts that make you feel negatively towards yourself and start following more accounts that emphasize loving yourself just as you are.
On top of unfollowing accounts that are negatively impacting your body image on social media, another healthy resolution you can make to help practice body positivity is to make sure that your social circle and environment is supportive and positive. It makes it easier to feel better about your body when surrounded by people who love you just the way you are and recognize the importance in doing so. Surround yourself with people who will help and encourage you to meet your goals rather than the other way around. Take the time to evaluate your relationships. Which relationships make you feel good, and which don’t? Then, focus on nurturing those relationships that do make you feel good.
Show Your Body Appreciation
What is self-care and what are ways that you can participate in a way that will show your body the appreciation that it needs? Self-care is all about taking care of YOU and making sure that you are meeting your own needs by participating in activities that nurture those needs and make you feel good. Practicing self-care is important for improving physical health, boosting your self-esteem, protecting your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, and more.
One way you can show your body self-care is by doing something nice for yourself! Whether that is taking a bubble bath and popping on a face mask, making time for a nap, going for a massage, or reading a book at the park, do what makes you happy. If you find yourself unable to stop feeling or talking negatively about your body, try switching gears and spending that time focusing on how you can help others. Reach out to an old friend and ask how they are doing, go to the beach and pick up trash, or even reach out to a nonprofit organization that interests you. This will shift your focus away from yourself and help others in the process!
Establish a Nightly Routine for Better Sleep Quality
It is easy to push off sleep in order to try to fit everything into your busy day. According to the Sleep Foundation, 35% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than 7 hours per night, with that number jumping to 43% for single parents.
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night is vital for maintaining optimal mental and physical well-being. Sleep helps with memory, performance, heart health, strengthening the immune system, lowering inflammation, decreasing depression risk, and more. Keep reading for tips to help you follow your dreams and reach your goal of obtaining adequate sleep.
Establish a Sleep Time
Most of us are familiar with the concept of bedtime, whether we had one when we were kids, or set them for our kids now. What we are less familiar with is having bedtime as an adult. Deciding on a set bedtime helps maintain your body’s internal clock and trains your brain to feel tired and wake up at the same time every night, as your brain naturally begins to wind down a few hours before you sleep.
In order to set your target bedtime, think about the time you must get up in the morning and count backward at least 7 hours from there. For example, if you need to get up for work at 6:00 am., make sure that your sleep time is no later than 11:00 p.m. Although sleeping in on the weekends is tempting (and okay when needed), try to stick to the same sleep and wake schedule all week long in order to not confuse your brain.
Have a Relaxing Drink Before Bed
Looking for something to help get you into sleep mode? There are many drinks that can help aid in relaxation before bedtime. It is important to note not to drink too much of any drink before bed, as that may end up disrupting your slumber later in the night to use the restroom.
We have included a variety of drinks that may help improve your sleep:
- Cherry juice: Cherries contain tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor to the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate when you fall asleep and wake up. A study by the National Library of Medicine found that drinking two cups of cherry juice every day for two weeks straight increased total sleep time in older adults with insomnia by about 84 minutes.
- Golden milk: Also known as turmeric milk, golden milk is an Indian drink that is made by warming up cow’s milk with turmeric and other spices. The milk component of this drink also contains tryptophan, while turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which may alleviate some of the effects of sleep deprivation.
- Chamomile tea: This tea, which is made by infusing chamomile flowers in hot water, may help with anxiety and insomnia which in turn helps improve sleep quality.
Swap Screentime with Journaling or Reading a Book
Many of us have grown up being told to put on sunscreen before going outside to avoid damage from harmful UV rays. What many of us don’t know is that blue light emitted from your screen is nearly as powerful. Today, we are exposed to more blue light than ever as technology advances and we spend more time staring at our screens. Computers, TVs phones, and tablets are all devices that have high levels of blue light.
When staring at a screen before bed, the blue light emitted restrains your production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps monitor your sleep cycle, tricking your body into thinking it is still daytime. The National Sleep Foundation recommends stopping looking at electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Swap your phone for reading a book or journaling to relax your mind before bedtime. If you do find yourself needing to stare at a screen before bed, try to use blue light glasses to help block the waves emitted from your screen.
As we enter 2023 with our new year’s resolutions top of mind, it is important to form attainable healthy habits to help you stay motivated all year long. A few great health goals to work towards include starting off your day by making your bed, making mindful eating choices, practicing body positivity, and ending your day with an established nightly routine. Which healthy habits will you start with to help you conquer your goals this year?